Apathy the Disease, Empathy the Antidote

Previously published by The Campus

As I frightfully look around at the seemingly ever present hate of this globe, I can’t help but try to find the root; the root of Charlottesville, the transgender military ban, sexual assault, gun violence, hate speech, and white supremacy. I aspire so innately to identify a cornerstone to this treacherous system of events we know, unfortunately, too well. Although this search is endlessly heartbreaking, I have come to a conclusion. Apathy drives hate, and if we hope to see a shift in the course of human events, something must be done.

We must ask ourselves how the system of indifference we experience daily is causing the news we so addictively turn to. We must probe ourselves to consider, to merely consider, the idea that this carefully manufactured reality of inequalities we have come to see as normal is having detrimental consequences to the world as a whole. We must look apathy in the face, and decide which side of the fight we are on. We simply must. Could we dare to imagine ourselves not impeded by geographical landscapes but in sync with the destruction across the globe?

Could we take that challenging step back to see a new perspective in which the apathy of this nation’s “forefathers” runs wild today? Could we further push ourselves away from hateful rationalization of human lives based on economic and strategic gain?

This all begs the question, what really is apathy?

Apathy is seeing a black boy suffocating and calculating the risk. Apathy is reading about toxic gas and then supporting big oil. Apathy is compartmentalizing rights to fit within a socially constructed ideal of “nation-states.” Apathy is praying for peace yet voting for war. Apathy is claiming to love and turning the other cheek to those most in need of it. Apathy is seeing the human being suffering in front of you and taxing them higher. Apathy is turning off the news. Apathy is saying “I’m not interested in politics.” Apathy is ignoring that “politics” has less to do with men in cut suits, and more to do with the livelihood of all entities around ourselves. Apathy is caring more about a flag than human lives. Apathy is throwing paper towels into a crowd of distressed families. Apathy is staring at the face of injustice and deciding to walk away.

This is what apathy looks like.

Until we make the choice to stop seeing individuals as only valuable when connected to a inherently unequal and socially fabricated ideal, and start recognizing the value in human life, regardless of color, gender, creed, or faith, we will forevermore be in the overwhelming presence of apathy. This recognition of the intrinsic value of a human can only live in the presence of empathy. For empathy, being the wholehearted acknowledgment of another human’s ache, regardless of your own infliction, is the only antidote to apathy.

This too begs, what really is empathy?

Empathy is seeing Nazis on the news and knowing that there are not two sides to every story. Empathy is striving for justice and not plotting your revenge. Empathy is recognizing your complicit privilege and then actually doing something about it. Empathy is protest. Empathy is seeing a 12-year-old boy get shot and questioning the racist system, not the “bad egg.” Empathy is giving your time to a cause that does not directly affect your life. Empathy is unconditionally being there. Empathy is caring what goes on 11,000 miles away. Empathy is looking yourself in the mirror and pointing out who and what you were taught to view negatively. Empathy is caring for the survivor and not asking what they were wearing or how much they had to drink. Empathy is striving for equity within equality. Empathy is the complete and utter disregard for indifference and neutrality when faced with injustice.

This is what empathy looks like. The road is forked with empathy on one end and apathy on the other. The choice is ours, and the choice is now

Design by Carmen Quang

crop 2017 - 11_Page_12
crop 2017 - 11_Page_13

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